presidents town hall

The President's Town Hall took place virtually on Zoom, April 23, 2020. 

As the spring 2020 semester comes to a close, with the last seven weeks being moved online due to the COVID-19 pandemic; and as a result, many questions remain for what lies ahead. 

While it may be over four months away, the fall 2020 semester is on the minds of many. What will we be able to do? How will things be different? Will things be different? Based on the information we currently have available to us, there’s a fair amount of info that we can go off of.

If we have classes this fall or not isn’t a question for many; it’s been a question as to whether or not these classes will be in-person or online. While Virginia Tech has not formally announced whether or not it is opening for in-person classes, it has announced that the intent is to host an in-person fall semester, albeit an adjusted one.

“Whether Virginia Tech chooses to have classes online or in-person next semester, I will be spending the fall semester in Blacksburg with my fellow Hokies,” said Kenny Barnes, a junior studying history and sociology. “Since it will be my senior year, it will be my last opportunity to get the VT undergraduate experience, and I would like to spend it with the people that have made the past three years of my life the best ones yet.”

On Friday, May 1, during a Virtual Blacksburg Town Hall meeting, Virginia Tech President Tim Sands addressed whether or not the upcoming semester would be online.

 “We’re really hoping and planning that it will be an in-person fall, with some caveats and still some major decisions to be made,” Sands said.

As for the adjustments made to the fall semester, should it come to be in person, one can assume that social distancing and the use of PPE, or personal protective equipment, may be some of the requirements students face when tasked with when being around campus. Currently, in the state of Virginia until June 10 of this year, individuals must maintain a distance of 6 feet apart from each other unless they are family members, members of their household or caretakers. 

When it comes to class sizes in the fall, there isn’t much information out there as to what may be altered when it comes to seating or the numbers of students per class. With some classes using auditoriums that seat hundreds of students, one might wonder as to how these kinds of classes may allow students to safely social distance in packed settings. Currently, under Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s executive order, gatherings of more than 10 people are not allowed.

 “All public and private in-person gatherings of more than 10 individuals are prohibited. This includes parties, celebrations, religious, or other social events, whether they occur indoor or outdoor,” the executive order reads

In regards to fall sports, the situation looking somewhat bright. As the way it stand currently, Virginia Tech fall sports can be expected. A Sports Illustrated article on the status of Virginia Tech’s fall sports notes that there are plans in place as to how the football team may return to play, as well as plans for the possible admittance of fans into games through the use of security gate health screenings. 

“Lots of planning going on, lots of misinformation out there. I know there’s a lot being said and read, but no final decisions yet,” said Whit Babcock, director of athletics at Virginia Tech. “I would anticipate playing football. I certainly don’t know it, but we are looking at all options out there.”

One can hope for the best when it comes to returning to campus for in-person classes this fall. With schools such as Radford University already announcing that they will be hosting in person classes in the fall, Gov. Northam believes that we have a chance at returning to classrooms later this year. When speaking on what should be expected of announcements moving forward regarding Virginia Tech, President Sands said, “We expect to have a decision during the first week, or maybe around June 8, for how the fall will progress.”

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